Orbán’s election campaign has already begun

The incredible anti-Bajnai campaign that has been launched by CÖF (Civil Összefogás Fórum) led by Sándor Csizmadia and other organizers of the two peace marches demonstrates that the current government is afraid of  Gordon Bajnai. As they should be. He is everything Viktor Orbán is not. The contrast cannot be greater. Bajnai is modest and soft spoken, Orbán is loud and has an inflated opinion of himself. Bajnai is quietly competent while Orbán twice proved that he is not fit to run a government. Bajnai is not really a politician while Orbán is a master of political intrigue, but his talents seem to stop at ruining the reputations of his political opponents.

People who are familiar with advertising rates estimate that this particular anti-Bajnai campaign has cost at least 100 million forints. The poster pictures Bajnai with Ferenc Gyurcsány as the latter is whispering something into Bajnai’s ear. The text is cleverly crafted. Gyurcsány-Bajnai Alliance appears in the lower lefthand corner. Large letters proclaim that “Together they ruined the country.” The word “together” is in red, which is obviously designed to call attention to Bajnai’s new formation, “Together 2014.” The text continues: “Once was enough. We don’t forget.”

The infamous anti-Bajnai poster allegedly financed by a civic group

Clearly the election campaign has begun, albeit unofficially. The method adopted here foreshadows what will most likely happen after the 2014 election campaign officially kicks off. From what we know of the new election law, it contains several stringent restrictions on advertising. We still don’t know whether government subsidies to the parties will be reduced or not. At one point Viktor Orbán talked about abolishing the current party financing because of  hard economic times. So, we can’t quite discount the possibility that the two-thirds majority will vote to change the party financing law and reduce the subsidies to insignificant amounts or even to zero. In that case Fidesz, using government money funneled through its civic groups, will spread the party’s slogans all over, on every bus and every surface available for advertising purposes, while the opposition will be invisible. It is that simple.

I think it is also worth talking a little bit about the Fidesz strategy of linking Bajnai’s name to that of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Some people are convinced that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s return to politics a year ago gave Viktor Orbán the opportunity to tie him to Gordon Bajnai in the here and now. They claim that Gyurcsány should have disappeared and that in that case Gordon Bajnai’s situation would be much easier. I think this line of reasoning is mistaken. I am sure that Orbán would have used the same strategy even if Gyurcsány had disappeared from the face of the earth. Orbán with the assistance of Tibor Navracsics and Zsolt Semjén managed to ruin Gyurcsány’s reputation. The very fact that Bajnai served in Gyurcsány’s government gives them a fantastic opportunity to repeat the performance, with Bajnai in the cross hairs this time around. These guys are skilled political assassins.

Here’s one illustration of my point. A few days ago Heti Válasz displayed a picture that linked Gordon Bajnai to Bálint Magyar (SZDSZ), who was minister of education between 1996 and 1998 and again between 2002 and 2006. Magyar is not involved in politics today, but that didn’t seem to prevent the pro-government publication from describing them, in the words of the article’s title, as “Birds of a feather flock together.” One should keep in mind that SZDSZ’s logo depicted a bird in flight.

Gone is Bálint Magyar, gone is SZDSZ, but it doesn’t matter. The vicious campaign will continue, linking his name with anyone who has ever served with him in the same government.

The question, of course, is whether it will work or not. Most of the people who were asked their opinion of the current anti-Bajnai campaign refused to answer. “I don’t know anything about politics.” Or, “I am not interested in politics.” Only a few dared to tell the questioning reporter that they find the campaign disgusting. One woman went so far as to say that she likes both men.

While this concerted effort at discrediting Bajnai is proceeding apace, LMP is falling apart. Gergely Karácsony announced only a few days ago that a breakup of LMP was “out of the question,” but by yesterday Benedek Jávor wasn’t that categorical. Because Jávor resigned as leader of the LMP caucus, the parliamentary group had to choose a new leader. There were four nominations, but three of the candidates refused to be nominated. András Schiffer, even though last week he announced that he was not willing to take the post, suddenly became much more willing. The trouble was that the eight LMP MPs who formed a platform called “Dialogue for Hungary” refused to vote for him. And since they are in the majority, Schiffer’s nomination was voted down 8-7.

Schiffer and a few of his followers left the meeting early. To the reporters’ questions about the outcome of the meeting Schiffer replied: “I was told that I’m supposed to eat what I cooked but they didn’t give me a fork and knife to eat it with.” Meanwhile Gábor Scheiring called Schiffer “the most divisive person in the party” who is unfit to lead a deeply divided caucus.

My sense is that those who are fed up with Orbán’s regime (and their numbers are growing) will demand unity and will punish LMP if  they stand by their decision to boycott Bajnai’s “Together 2014.” I’m also noticing a mellowing in certain liberal circles toward Ferenc Gyurcsány. People have begun to appreciate his steadfast efforts to call attention to the dangers of a stolen election in 2014. The fact that he and his party are ready to cooperate with “Together 2014” without any preconditions also endears him to those who are disgusted with the Schiffer-wing of LMP. I will be really curious what the next polls will tell us. There might be a few surprises.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Member

We can all see what is going on. There is no question about that. My question is actually a very simple one: Why Bajnai’s supporters come up with the money to finance a campaign that shows that actually it is Matolcsy, Orban and their plagiarizing friends who are taking Hungary to the depth? Gyurcsany, Bajnai and many others who support him are very wealthy people. WHere is the money? Or it is that only Fidesz has the rich supporters and Bajnai’s friends are all relatively poor? I am very serious with these questions.

Ms KKA
Guest

Am I correct in assuming that a “civic group” is much the same as a PAC here? Is Edgyutt 2014 not still a civic group? What, apart from funding, of course, would prevent them from running a rebuttal campaign?

An
Guest

MS KKA: Other than money, running such a campaign needs places where Egyutt 2014 can advertise. Public media is government controlled, private tv and press is intimidated to run ads attacking the government (fearing a backlash from the government). The billboards are owned by the company of Simicska, a Fidesz-crony… so advertising space for the opposition is already seriously limited. It will only get worse with the new electoral law, which will further limit political advertising. Practically, in the election campaign, political parties will only be able to advertise on public tv (run by the government) and billboards (Fidesz-controlled). Political advertising, for example, on commercial TVs, will not be allowed.

gdfxx
Guest

Based on the darker and darker aspects of the expected 2014 elections I really wonder what would stop the present government to steal the election, regardless of the actual percentage of the vote they will get.

Following the Chinese model, at the end of the elections the new Politburo with Orban leading will parade in front of the applauding parliament (which by now will be 99.69% FIDESZ). And those who dare to protest will be locked up or worse, also based on the Chinese model.

Member

An :
MS KKA: Other than money, running such a campaign needs places where Egyutt 2014 can advertise. Public media is government controlled, private tv and press is intimidated to run ads attacking the government (fearing a backlash from the government). The billboards are owned by the company of Simicska, a Fidesz-crony… so advertising space for the opposition is already seriously limited. It will only get worse with the new electoral law, which will further limit political advertising. Practically, in the election campaign, political parties will only be able to advertise on public tv (run by the government) and billboards (Fidesz-controlled). Political advertising, for example, on commercial TVs, will not be allowed.

An, as I asked above, “Where is the money?” I yet to read a single article that the advertising campaign was not executed because there were not able to rent advertising spaces. Until I read a single factual article about opposition parties advertising being tuned away, anything you wrote is a theory.
Maybe it will happen, but for goodness sake, who holds Bajnai back to try it?

Member

One more thing, if they will not able to advertise, then at least there is some factual issue to start lobbying or file complaint at the EU.

An
Guest

@Some1

“A provision of the Mass Media Act prohibiting any political advertisements outside of election periods has affected media outlets in Hungary. The law fails to define clearly what constitutes political advertising. Since November 2011, Nepszava, a daily newspaper based in Budapest, has received requests to publish advertisements for political rallies protesting the government. It has been reluctant to publish any of these advertisements, however, due to fears that Nepszava would fall foul of the ban on political advertising.[10] In January 2012, Nepszava finally decided to publish an advertisement announcing a protest, and as of the end of January it had not heard from the Media Council that the move breached the regulations.”

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/02/16/memorandum-european-union-media-freedom-hungary

Member

I was truly amazed this summer hearing how successful the anti-Gyurcsany hysteria was. The FIDESZ practically made him a household name for disaster. Many people, especially older generation, din’t care at all about facts, lack of evidence, they just keep repeating hypnotized the wildest stories about Gyurcsany’s mental illness for instance. They sucked in everything the FIDESZ fed to them. Very sad.

This genuine stupidity of the Hungarian public should be harnessed in some positive way, like in anti-smoking propaganda – “Cigarettes kill you like Gyurcsany”. On a serious note there should be banners that compare Gyurcsany with Orban. Of course these zombies don’t really care about facts.

Well the gloves are off. We shouldn’t go easy on them. We should ridicule them every way possible. And these guys are an endless supply of mindless, stand up comedy ready, idiotic decisions. Like they just figured out that that winter is a serious social problem and they assigned a government undersecretary in charge of winter. First I thought this is an attempt to make the Hungarian children believe in Santa Clause again, but then the smile froze on my face. They are really this stupid.

Vilmos
Guest

I was wondering for how long the anti-IMF posters, government “information” paid for by my taxes, would stay up – in Debrecen they’d been prominently displayed for a couple of months, or so it seemed, and then one day last week they were all gone and the exact same spaces now had the anti-Bajnai stuff described above. I would love to see some punching back.

Member

An :
@Some1
“A provision of the Mass Media Act prohibiting any political advertisements outside of election periods has affected media outlets in Hungary. The law fails to define clearly what constitutes political advertising. Since November 2011, Nepszava, a daily newspaper based in Budapest, has received requests to publish advertisements for political rallies protesting the government. It has been reluctant to publish any of these advertisements, however, due to fears that Nepszava would fall foul of the ban on political advertising.[10] In January 2012, Nepszava finally decided to publish an advertisement announcing a protest, and as of the end of January it had not heard from the Media Council that the move breached the regulations.”
http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/02/16/memorandum-european-union-media-freedom-hungary

THank you, but did Nepszava publish Fidesz advertisements at the same time? I am not talking about the confusion caused by various legislations, I am talking about an example of Bajnai putting his anti-Orban ads on the remaining buses.
“”He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get OrbanCapone!”
Malone Sean Conneri in the Untouchables

petofi
Guest

gdfxx :
Based on the darker and darker aspects of the expected 2014 elections I really wonder what would stop the present government to steal the election, regardless of the actual percentage of the vote they will get.
Following the Chinese model, at the end of the elections the new Politburo with Orban leading will parade in front of the applauding parliament (which by now will be 99.69% FIDESZ). And those who dare to protest will be locked up or worse, also based on the Chinese model.

I agree. This campaign is all ‘front’. It is all decided: the foreign votes will be monstrously in
Orban’s favour–legitimately or not. But Stalin’s words wil also play a role: “Democracy is not about voting; it’s about who counts the votes.”

petofi
Guest

When it’s all said and done, and the shards of a broken country lie at the feet of the Bekemenet boys and girls, we will here the old German refrain of 1945: “We were innocent.
We were fooled. What could we do?” But rachet back the films to 1940 and watch the enthusiastic salutes to Herr Hitler–those were some excited, exhilerated folks.
Bekemenet, take note….

Guest
London Calling! Like Paul and Minusio and others – I am deeply sceptical as to what success can be had in the next ‘elections’. Whilst the election will probably be an Orban walkover, and I am deeply worried about democracy in Hungary – I am not advocating giving up. If not least for the reason that for external democracy ‘guardians’ to assist then the opposition must have been seen to put up some sort of spirited campaign – to have failed reasonably – but preferably heroically. With the ‘stitching up’ of all the usual communication sites by Fidesz, with the concomitant skewed electoral laws – and the clearly ‘illegal’ knocking copy on the buses and elsewhere – it calls for special measures. The opposition ‘rump’ – must at least start organising now – if not earlier! Even if they can’t knock some sense into LMP – they are wasting valuable time. Taking a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book – when his recent victory was as a result of more consolidated support than many pundits realised – the Hungarian opposition should harness all the facilities that social media and the internet can offer. As Obama did. Orban can’t control that… Read more »
Penny Oswalt
Guest

If I did not know better……the PM is getting too big for his britches, I fear for the people of Hungary if these kind of political actions continue to spiral out of control.

Erik the Reader
Guest

What about Bajnai and Wallis or Hajdú-Bét Rt which crippled many poultry breeders? Was that a good management of him? No. Don’t forget he was the prime minister in 2009 and 2010, and prior to that, since 2006 he was the member of the Gyurcsány government as Government Commissioner in Development Policy and as Minister of Local Government.
So you can see that they destroyed Hungary together with Gyurcsány and he is accountable for that and he has never come clean. Hungary does not need an economic hit-man and a puppet of foreign circles like Bajnai. Együtt is not even registered and they make demands for LMP, what a mockery! Együtt is consisted of former Szdsz and Mszp aids during the 8 years of socialist government who are trying to reinvent themselves in power. We don’t need Együtt, they should go to HELL!

Member
I know I am in the minority here, but I predict that Bajnai’s meteoric rise is a ballon that is going to pop in the next few months. As Eva correctly points out, Bajnai is “not really a politician.” He lacks the leadership skills that would make him a viable prime minister. So far, I see no reason to believe that Bajnai will be able to organize people – “marshal the troops,” so to speak. His responses to the attacks against him have been limp-wristed, and I find it hard to imagine Bajnai standing up to the machinations of Fidesz’s propaganda machine in the future. While Bajnai proved to be adept at macroeconomic “damage management” during his one year as prime minister, he did nothing to redress the popular cynicism toward democratic governance — a cynicism that had been fueled by his predecessor and sponsor, Ferenc Gyurcsany. I passionately object to 95% of what Fidesz does and practically 100% of what it says. But when the Orbanites condemn Bajnai in relation to his fawning support for Gyurcsany’s incompetent and corrupt government of 2006-2009, I find myself agreeing. Bajnai was no minor player in Gyurcsany’s inner circle: He was minister of… Read more »
Guest

Though I’m an optimist at heart I don’t have much hope for the next years in Hungary. Fidesz will win the next elections and Hungary will slide deeper into you know what I mean.

Maybe then the people who are still here will wake up when they see their country becoming the EU’s slum. So in 2018 there might be a reaction – or earlier if some people in Fidesz realise what Orbán, Matolcsy etc have been doing …

Paul
Guest
Charlie is right. We cannot give up, and the internet is the only means the opposition has left – and it can be an effective one (and one I suspect Orbán and his mates won’t be able to use as effectively). But, unfortunately, he is also right when he says the “internet use is not so advanced in Hungary”. Whilst physically it is as easy to get connected as (say) in the UK, the fact is that most of the population don’t use it, or use it in a much more restricted/specific way than we are used to. The ‘social media’ effect that we are getting so used to in the West doesn’t really happen in Hungary. Realistically, it won’t make any significant difference to the outcome of the 2014 election, Orbán has that sewn up, but it could be the beginning of a grassroots movement against Orbán, which could eventually grow into something that ultimately does overthrow him. It will be interesting to see how well the opposition does use the internet – and how Orbán responds. Unfortunately, anyone who thinks he cannot – and will not – control the internet is is living in cloud-turul-land. All internet access… Read more »
Member
Dear Eva – “Wrong” implies that I have said something factually incorrect. Your response did not point out anything I said that does not meet the standard of factuality. Naturally, the opinions I expressed are my own. But please be advised that disagreeing with someone does necessarily not make the other person “wrong.” I am a liberal who does not think that Bajnai is the best choice for prime minister. I do not want to see a regurgitation of the 2007-2010 government, and trust you me, I am not alone in that view. With 1.5 years to go until the next election (if Fidesz actually decides to hold the ballot on schedule), NOW is the time to debate who should be leading opposition to Fidesz, or whether the opposition can be united under a single banner, or whether an opposition union is even a good idea. In the coming six months or so, the answers to the above questions will become clear. Then, you can bet that I will support whatever entity has the best chance of defeating Orban. Until then, I will ensure that my views are represented in the debate. That’s one of the key tenets of pluralism… Read more »
Kingfisher
Guest

Pibroch, well said!

And to everyone else, is replacing one criminal gang with another the only choice Hungary has? If so, perhaps everyone should emigrate.

Paul
Guest

As for Gyurcsán and Bajnai – it’s not what we think that matters, it’s what the majority of Hungarians ‘know’ that is crucial. And pibroch details that very accurately.

The Orbán propaganda worked fantastically well, so much so that even someone like pibroch, although deeply anti-Fidesz/Orbán, still doesn’t trust Gyurchán or Bajnai.

And we have to ask ourselves why that propaganda was so overwhelmingly successful. The answer is twofold: firstly it reinforced what many people already thought – he was basically preaching to the partly converted – and, secondly, it is based on a large element of truth.

The Medgyessy/Gyurcsan government WAS a disaster for Hungary, and Bajnai only looks good if you selectively look at what he did in the last year, not at his part in creating the mess.

Without the incompetence, corruption and mismanagement of the MSzP government, we wouldn’t have the problem we’ve got today – they created the environment that produced the Viktator. It would be crazy to suggest that the answer to Orbán is to go back to that – and the people know that.

Paul
Guest

Ho hum – while I’m painstakingly constructing my arguments, Kingfisher pops up and says the same thing in just two lines!

Kingfisher
Guest

My “Pibroch, well said” comment related to his earlier post but also applies to the second one!

Gyurcsány’s huge mistake was not resigning after the Öszödi Beszéd. Had he done so, I can just about imagine that he would be regarded differently now, as being a man with some integrity. But having been caught admitting he had grossly and dishonestly run the country, he seemed to expect some sort of positive reception from the electorate when he decided to plough on and clear up his own mess. I don’t think any electorate in the world would accept that from any politician and the fact he hung on to power is the reason we now have the current ghastly regime. Orbán is Gyurcsány’s fault, to quite a significant degree.

Erik the Reader
Guest
Eva S. Balogh : Erik, the Reader returned. For Pete’s sake look around. The economy is in ruins, corruption is rampant, Hungary’s name is blacked all over the world and your guys at the moment are working on stealing the elections and you talk about Hajdu-Bet and the geese. Bajnai’s firm that was involved didn’t do anything illegal. They simply could save the firm. Bajnai won several lawsuits against those who accused him of wrongdoing. As for Gyurcsány, he managed to decrease the deficit considerably between 2006 and 2008 and introduced reforms most of which Fidesz torpedoed. What you are parroting is sheer crap. Sorry, but it is. Morality and legality do not coincide. Maybe he won lawsuits against some news outlets, but the bottom question is have they paid compensation for those bankrupts? The suppliers have not been paid that’s the bottom line and that cannot be whitewashed!!! He cannot scratch down the Libás Bajnai nickname (Goosey Bajnai) , also the taxi drivers of the former Est Taxi are not happy when his name is mentioned. Yea: let’s make thing legally and let’s make people suffer and pay! That is the Bajnai way. For the record Fidesz saved Hungary… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Pibroch. You are not just in minority but you are wrong. With stuff like that you are doing your darnedest to keep Orbán and his criminal gang in power. You are the worst kind of “liberal.” Sorry that I have to say that. I understand Erik the Red more than I understand you, You are one of those who make sure that Fidesz wins the next elections.

I’m sorry, Éva , it’s your blog and therefore you have the right to say whatever you think, but this reaction to Pibroch’s comment is not helpful. Pibroch is EXACTLY the sort of liberal we need within the opposition – someone who understands the evil of Orbán and Fidesz and passionately wants to replace them, but who also understand the reality of Hungary.

You are right, attitudes like this won’t help to win the next election, but then nothing is going to help win the next election, short of a revolution. But attitudes like Pibrch’s are absolutely essential for the ultimate victory over Orbán. Shut out people like him and the opposition is just as blinkered as Fidesz.

Paul
Guest

Kingfisher :
My “Pibroch, well said” comment related to his earlier post but also applies to the second one!
Gyurcsány’s huge mistake was not resigning after the Öszödi Beszéd. Had he done so, I can just about imagine that he would be regarded differently now, as being a man with some integrity. But having been caught admitting he had grossly and dishonestly run the country, he seemed to expect some sort of positive reception from the electorate when he decided to plough on and clear up his own mess. I don’t think any electorate in the world would accept that from any politician and the fact he hung on to power is the reason we now have the current ghastly regime. Orbán is Gyurcsány’s fault, to quite a significant degree.

Which is why Gyurcsany is not the answer. He may be a nice chap, he may be whiter than white, he may even have been a half-decent PM, had the situation been different. But he is not a politician – he proved that he simply does not understand how politics works – or how people think.

Guest

Even tough I don’t know too much (I never cared too much until Fidesz came to power and started that awful reactionary program …) about Hungarian politics and politicians I have one question:

What is the reason that there seem to be no “good” (i e honest, truthful, intelligent, qualified etc …) politicians in Hungary at all ?

Everybody that is named is “tainted” or stupid/crazy or dishonest – in it only for the money …

What about the young people ? I know that they are on the internet – the young ones in my wife’s family get their info mainly from sites like reddit, nor from Hungarian tv or newspapers. So they know what’s going on in the world at large, not only Hungary – but they have no time and see no future/chance in politics.

wpDiscuz